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MRA-Built Rolling Educational Experience for American Welding Society to Promote Welding as a Career
Nov 22, 2011 (02:11 PM EST)

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich., Nov. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- From the buildings we live and work in and the machinery that powers our economy, to the vehicles that transport us and the infrastructure on which we travel, few aspects of our daily lives are left untouched by skilled welders.  But the American Society of Welding (AWS) says the number of welders in the United States will fall nearly 240,000 short of the need by 2019.

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To address this looming shortage, AWS has launched the "Careers in Welding Trailer," which will travel the country inspiring and educating young people about careers in welding.

The 53-foot, single-expandable trailer, which features 650 square feet of exhibit space, was designed and built by Madison Heights, Mich.,-based MRA experiential tours and equipment, a pioneer in mobile experiential tour solutions for more than 20 years.

It launched last week at the FABTECH trade show in Chicago and will be on the road for 18-24 weeks in 2012, targeting events with youth between the ages of 13 and 19 and adults searching for a second career.

The trailer's five Lincoln Electric VRTEX® 360 simulator stations are the highlight of the exhibit. The VRTEX 360 feeds computer-generated data with a virtual welding gun and helmet equipped with internal monitors. The participant practices welding in virtual environments, including simulated welding-booth training environments or field-welding applications. The simulator also has a scoring component that awards each "welder" with a value for his or her weld.

Lincoln Electric is the primary sponsor of the "Careers in Welding" trailer.

"Welding is central to the business of building MRA's mobile experiential tours, so the American Welding Society and this educational outreach effort is near and dear to us," said Harry Kurtz, MRA's president and CEO.  "We're pleased to help promote these vital career opportunities – which can be very lucrative – to help build a better future for America."

"This project is really instrumental to help recruit students into the field of welding, because this is going to be an exciting, hands-on exhibit that will be traveling the country," said Monica Pfarr, corporate director of workforce development at AWS.  "It will give students the opportunity to learn about careers and opportunities."

MRA brought in Alex Pazkowski and Brandon Woodman, two welding student interns from Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich., to work on the trailer and other projects.  In recognition of their efforts, Kurtz presented $500 scholarships to each of them at FABTECH.

"Alex and Brandon cleared their summer schedules and they traveled over an hour each way to get to us," said Tony Amato, MRA's executive vice president.  "They got really hands-on, and it wasn't just about building parts anymore or doing something repetitious.  They knew it was going to become something bigger, and they hadn't been to that point yet in their welding career."

MRA's state-of-the-art facility houses not only Corporate Sales, Marketing, Logistics and Account Services Departments, but also Trailer Manufacturing, Engineering and Fabrication Services.  It's truly a "one-stop shop," a business philosophy that translates into a higher level of service for MRA's clients.

You can see more about the trailer at

SOURCE MRA experiential tours and equipment